That was close. So close. Upon arriving in town for Cece's wedding, Jess's dad, played by Rob Reiner, showed up at the loft the morning after Nick and Jess did the horizontal tango, and despite Jess's warnings that Nick not reveal their relationship to her father, he was disarmed by his own daddy issues and spilled. Bob promptly threatened to kill him, then simmered down and opted to just stick with the old, "You're not good enough for my little princess!" schtick. This happened immediately in the wake of a bonding moment between the two gents, with Bob assuring Nick that Nick wasn't like his late father; thus, when Bob made the assertion that Nick is actually just like Bob, with Bob admitting that he believed he'd been a crappy husband to Jess's mom, it was enough to shatter the foundation of Jess and Nick's "thing" just as it was starting to settle.
Ugh, stop talking, Bob.
But perhaps it's a sign of just how far Nick has come this season that after the initial hurt dulled, Bob's refusal to give Nick and Jess his blessing didn't seem to be such a world-shattering rejection after all.
There was so much potential for Bob's rejection of Nick and his comparison of Nick to himself to sink the good ship Nessy and for a minute there, I thought the writers had brought back Mr. Day purely to deliver what would surely be a temporarily fatal blow. Jess and Nick's relationship is sometimes just as complicated and hard to define for we the viewers as it is for Nick and Jess. I know for certain that I don't want a long, drawn-out courtship with lots of break-ups and reunions stretching on for season after season, but I also don't think we're ready for Nick and Jess to settle completely into the boyfriend/girlfriend routine. Watching them fumble toward a definition of what they are, fight their mutual feelings, and eventually come together time and again has been one of the most surprisingly enjoyable aspects of New Girl's second season. Every time it seems like their awkward inevitability is running out of non-irritating roadblocks to throw up, the writers manage to explore angles of Jess and Nick and Jess/Nick that were never even considered before.
The Nick Miller we knew in Season 1 one would've taken Bob's words to heart and bailed on his relationship with Jess simply to avoid the thought of Bob's prophesy—that in the end, it wouldn't work out—because the Nick Miller we knew in Season 1 was sorely lacking in both the self-esteem and the goals departments. If that Nick Miller was told he wasn't good enough for Jess, he would've believed it. If he was told they would fail as a couple, he wouldn't even have tried to make it work. In a way, the Nick we saw in "Winston's Birthday" is now a Nick who's harnessing the damage done to him by his father—and his fears of turning out like his old man or some similarly unfavorable figure—and making the fear work in his favor. Nick knows what a good guy and a bad guy look and act like. He doesn't want to be like his father and he's finally starting to understand that he doesn't have to be if he doesn't want to be.
Nick wasn't the only half of this couple who could've been scared away by Bob's bluster, though. Jess has her fair share of hang-ups, and given the epic struggle we saw her undergo in last week's flashbacks to lose her virginity to just the right guy, it's not hard to imagine the initial horror of being told she was basically dating her dad.
Yet in the end, after clumsily trying to justify her terror, Jess concluded that the messy parts of life are the best parts, and sleeping with a guy who reminds her dad of her dad is a messy part that she can live with.
Nick's stupidly precious candlelit belated morning-after breakfast on the roof probably helped, too—even if it ended up going to Winston. I actually really appreciated that the everybody-forgot-Winston's-birthday storyline didn't end up being a giant sitcom-y angst fest. Everybody forgot—it happens!—and then everybody tried to make it better and there was minimal pouting and guilt-tripping. Yay for adults acting like adults.
But now we need to talk about Schmidt and Elizabeth. I'm so torn, and even though deep down inside I don't think there's any way for them to last very long despite Schmidt's best efforts, Elizabeth is really growing on me. She's a pretty awesomely positive character in a lot of ways. So far, she's been shown as someone who's perfectly comfortable in her own skin even though she's aware that she doesn't embody conventional beauty standards. She doesn't mind rocking a 12-year-old Y2Kitty T-shirt. She's not impressed with Schmidt because he lost a bazillion pounds and is now suddenly occasionally considered attractive and desirable by a supermodel, which puts an interesting dynamic on their relationship because Schmidt initially went back to Elizabeth after suffering a string of rejections during his hunt for a plus-one to Cece's wedding, incorrectly assuming that geeky, plain Elizabeth would unquestionably throw herself at Schimdt 2.0. The fact that she didn't and doesn't and he's actually the one chasing her is pretty revealing of Schmidt's deeper self-esteem issues.
The only thing that really bothers me about Elizabeth, however, is that sometimes I think her insistence that Schmidt go back to being his old self is a little unfair. It's okay for people to change, you know? It doesn't make them bad people. Even with his douchebag tendencies, the current Schmidt isn't really a bad guy. For whatever reason, Schmidt decided not to remain the same person he was in college, and Elizabeth doesn't always seem willing to respect that. Having her constantly point out the flaws in New Schmidt probably feels just as bad, to him at least, as when people undoubtedly did the same thing to Old Schmidt.
Still, the flashbacks we've seen have have made it clear that Elizabeth has cared deeply for Schmidt as a person—regardless of size, shape, or sophistication—for a long time. She even offered to punch people in the peen if they made fun of him for dancing at a party; that's some pure love, right there. So far, Elizabeth's nostalgia for the Schmidt she dated in college—not to mention her urging that he try to let a little more of that guy into his current life—seems to be mostly fueled by a concern that even with his svelte bod and impressive job, Schmidt never seems truly happy. I can get behind that. Cuz let's face it, he's not.
What I'm saying is, I generally really like Elizabeth and now I'm confused because Cece and Shevrang are sooooo doomed and the logical next step would be to put her back on the track toward Schmidtty and now I don't think I want Elizabeth and Schmidt to break up even though I also don't know how much longer Schmidt is going to indulge her in revisiting his college years.
(This is why you're awesome, New Girl.)
What did you think of "Winston's Birthday"?
– One-liner of the night: Schmidt's mention of his "perfectly sculpted pubic topiary."
– Internet, I need you to gif the Shriners surrounding that small boy. I NEED it.
– Curtis Armstrong played Jess's possible new boss. Hi, Booger! You been BUSY lately!
– "Burkas isn't you guys, is it?" Oh Jess.
– Cece's wedding plans continue to spark disaster. How many omens do you need, girl?